Friday, January 17, 2014

Three Things Thursday

*Disclaimer: I know it's not Thursday, but most of this was written on Thursday, so it counts. :)

Thing One: easy feta-veggie quiche
photo credit
This quiche is all kinds of awesome and perfect for those little bits of veggies you have left behind in your veggie drawer that aren't quite enough for anything. The great thing about this recipe is that you can change out whatever veggies you have on hand for the ones it calls for. I would recommend a deep dish pie crust and a little extra salt and pepper, but other than that, this recipe is delicious as is! Add some red peppers to all your greens and it's really pretty!

Thing Two: Nosefrida Snotsucker
photo credit
Y'all. This is going to sound like just about the grossest thing you've ever heard, but IT WORKS. Nothing gets baby/toddler (adult?) boogers out better. Straight from Sweden, land of neutrality and booger-sucking. I promise zero snot gets even close to your mouth, but even if it did, there's a spongey blocker, so it's all clean.  But yes, you actually suck snot out of your kid's nose by sucking in air through a tube. Totally gross. Totally works. I was a complete skeptic and now I want to buy one for all my mommy friends. Worth the money, and it's on Amazon Prime, so what's not to love?

Thing Three: Noodle is 3 months old!
She has my heart. You know that deep, wordless wonder? We have that, she and I. She's laid back, cuddly, patient, long-suffering (think: Moo gives her cars to play with all day long and sometimes throws her balls expecting her to catch them), lovely, expressive, and sensitive but has a voice. Here's her with her lovey, Hops:

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Mommy Martyr

It's no secret that being a mom means putting yourself last a lot of the time. Get everyone else fed and dressed and then I'll throw myself together in the few minutes that are left. The little person wants to read a book with me and I want to catch up on friends' blogs? Reading a book with him always wins. The little person needs milk and I need to start a load of laundry? I'll get his milk first. He needs to eat lunch and I need to go to the bathroom? I'll probably just manage to hold it another hour. Such is life. And it's good, mostly. It's a good thing to have the refrain of my mind be "How can I serve the people in my life today?"

But what happens when that self-sacrifice turns into martyrdom? And when does it cross that grey, grey line? When does it become "I can't take time to get my hair cut/work out/write/go on a walk/run an errand/answer the phone because my kids need me and only me and I don't want to inconvenience my husband during his time off?" How do I get to the place where doing something for myself feels wrong and indulgent? (Side note: I really hate that phrase "doing something for yourself." It sounds so, well, self-helpy and frou-frou. But it's a real thing.) How do I get to the place where doing something for myself doesn't end in guilt for not putting others first?

And most importantly, how does this square with what Jesus says? He clearly values humility:

"The first shall be last, and the last shall be first." 
"Consider others better than yourselves."
"Do nothing out of selfish ambition." 

But he also knew when to "do something for himself." He often stepped away from the crowds. He spent many nights alone. He spent time with a few good friends. He took time to eat. He knew when to say "yes," when to say "no," and when to say "wait." Most of the time, when others needed him, he said yes. And I think that's how it should be. Whenever possible, we say yes to putting others first. BUT. There's a key part of that familiar passage to consider:

"Look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others."

It's implied that we'll look to our own interests, that we'll take care of ourselves. Looking to the interests of others does not exclude looking after yourself. Jesus' ministry was only possible because of the many times he stole away to pray, to eat, to be still. I can't give to those around me effectively if I'm not taking time to steal away. But it's not the stealing away that brings life; it's stealing away to be with Jesus. And that seems to be the key: time to myself should still be about service; I should take time to myself SO THAT I can bring more God-life to the world. And the only God-life I bring comes from what He breathes through me from time spent with Him. Steal away. Fill up. Pour out. Repeat.

But I'm left with a lot of questions. Questions like: When is saying "no" to someone else's need creating a healthy boundary and when is it selfish? How do you put others' needs above your own without sacrificing your own needs? How do you know when "doing something for yourself" is healthy or actually self-indulgent? (Because let's be honest: sometimes "stealing away" to get that pedicure is really more about me than it is about something eternal or others-centered. And yeah. There's a spiritual place for pedicures--not to worry! But do I see it as a way to bring beauty to the world or invest in a friendship, or is it simply an escape from the zoo that is my house some days? And, of course, sometimes escaping the zoo IS what brings God-life because I might otherwise explode on my loved ones.)

It's complicated. And while I don't have many answers, I do know this: it's a matter of the heart. Did you catch that little phrase earlier: "because my kids need me and only me"? That's my heart coming through, y'all. And not the pretty part. That's the part of me that believes the lie that I'm irreplaceable and that somehow I can bring all kinds of life and peace to my kids by my enduring presence. Yikes. Pretty sure that's God's job and that "being there" for my kids has become an idol, and in that moment I officially become a mommy martyr. My kids need me, sure, but they really need Jesus, and the best way for them to learn that is by seeing their very needy mom leaning on Him. That way, when I'm not there to give them comfort/companionship/peace/happiness, they know that Jesus IS there and does those things better perfectly anyway.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Oh yeah. We bought a car.

In the midst of running the Johnson infirmary over here, I forgot to mention that we also had to buy a car right after Christmas. Fun times. We had it coming. You might recall my little deal with my beloved 1999 Sentra. Well, it was in the shop twice in two weeks before Christmas, and we were starting to put more money into it than it was worth, so it was time to move on.

Everyone's all "You got a new car!" and "Wow--big Christmas for you!" and yes, we're excited to own a car that isn't from the 90's, but we weren't wanting to buy a car just yet, so we weren't exactly summersaults and rainbows over here about it. (Okay, Phil might have been doing a few summersaults over it.) That Sentra saw me through pretty much my entire adult life and reminds me of quality make out sessions with Phil, road trips to all over, and milestones like driving to my first job. I'll miss it, but would take a reliable car over a sentimental one any day. That being said, we're so, so grateful for the new car (a Honda Pilot, or "Pilot car,"* as Moo calls it) and also glad we sold the Sentra to a sweet lady who needed it.

So today when Phil was post-call I got to go to the DMV. I'm not being sarcastic when I say "got." I've been cooped up with two sick kids for weeks, often without a car because one of ours has been in the shop. So, while everyone else there was cursing under their breath and complaining about paperwork, long lines, and "Mexicans"** (I kid you not), I was Pollyanna. I got to read two Cooking Light magazines from November and December that hadn't had time to read. I got to return texts and emails uninterrupted. I got to be around other adults. It was all kinds of awesome. 

And let's be honest: the DMV is great for people watching. One lady was registering SEVEN cars, claiming she "has too many kids and her husband likes to collect cars." Uh huh. Another guy was registering a trailer and the woman behind the desk had to ask if it was one he lived in or just one he pulled behind a car. Only in Alabama. 

On my way to the DMV, I braced for the worst, but hoped for the best and came out right in the middle, finishing up in just over two hours. I thought the 17-degree morning might keep some people indoors, but I guess others had the same idea.  

In a sick, backwards kind of way, I was expecting (wanting?) Phil to experience a slice of my life for the past two weeks, which has included a very whiney, discontent toddler and a very fussy, unpredictable infant. What he got was paradise. The toddler was pleasant, creative, and silly. He read books in his room by himself for 30 minutes ("Read by self. Daddy go in living room," he said after Phil asked to read with him), and then he PUT HIMSELF DOWN FOR A NAP. He has NEVER done either of those things. Ever. Phil walked in to check on him and there he was asleep on his chair with a book in his lap. Here's the picture Phil sent me:
With a high of 21 degrees, it was a stay inside in your PJs kind of day.
Noodle, while not a champion daytime sleeper, was happy and cooing. Basically, for two hours my kids were angelic creatures that you only read about in books, and Phil was able to eat lunch uninterrupted by himself while both kids were awake. How does that even happen? I think he must have slipped something into their milk. Good for him, though, right? The kids must have sensed my presence when I returned because they were both up within the hour. But I was a better mom this afternoon because I got to go away by myself for two hours, even if it was 17 degrees and I was at the DMV. 

*The day we bought the new car, Moo spent an hour just playing in it and cried when we made him come inside because it was getting dark. I'm pretty sure he was more excited about it than anyone else in the family!

**A word about the guy next to me complaining about "the Mexicans." I wish I had thought fast enough to tell him my husband was from Mexico. Sometimes a little lie is worth it. Instead, I just told him to "watch it," which was pretty great too since he was twice my size and age. 

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Feeling yucky, silver linings, and my word for 2014

For the past two weeks, we've been passing around illness like it's a Handy-Snacks in the school lunch room. So, we rang in the new year last night by going to bed as early as possible, which was still 10:30 because Noodle decided it was a good night to scream. A lot. Poor thing has been constipated I think because of the medicine I'm on for mastitis (again). Moo moved from a stomach bug to a fever/cough/congestion combo that's lingering on for what feels like an eternity. Christmas Eve night, Phil got the stomach bug, and Noodle's reflux has been flaring up.


We've hardly slept.
We're exhausted.
We feel cooped up.
We feel defeated before the day has even begun.
It's an accomplishment just to get dressed every day.

But enough whining. The silver linings in all this?

Phil got sick when his work day was light the next day.
Phil was off and we were at my parents' (read: help available) when I was sick.
Noodle has not gotten the stomach bug or the cough.
These sicknesses are temporary; I can't imagine the stress and difficulty of chronic illness.
This life is temporary; we were made for something bigger than these day-to-day toils.

A friend asked me about my New Year's Resolution(s) this year, and told her I hadn't even had the brain power to think of it. Today feels like any other day with spills and snot and nap times and wrangling my toddler out of his favorite PJs.

While I don't have a resolution per se, I do have a word that I pray drives this year: HOPE. Hope for Heaven. Hope in Jesus. Hope for restoration in the world, my family, and my own heart. Hope that's anchored in the soul, the deep places that only God knows and only God can meet, despite circumstances. Hope that aims to look for the good in all circumstances, even when all the answers aren't there and it hurts. Hope that knows without a doubt that God is up to something all the time even if all I can see is black black black. And it's good. That's the hope I long for.